UN renews Libya mission, pledges to support a ceasefire

The U.N. Envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, speaks during a news conference in Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2019
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UN renews Libya mission, pledges to support a ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution renewing its mission in Libya for another year and pledging to support struggling efforts to build a ceasefire in the war-torn country.
Libya has been mired in chaos since an uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, when the United Nations mission in Libya (UNSMIL) was established.
The Security Council said it asked the UN Secretary-General "to assess the steps required to reach a lasting ceasefire (and) the possible role of UNSMIL in providing scalable ceasefire support."
The pledge of support was requested by UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, who has pushed for a restart of the political process since Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive in April to conquer the capital, Tripoli.
Haftar's forces are fighting those of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is led by Fayed al-Sarraj and is recognized by the UN.
While Sarraj is backed by Turkey and Qatar, Haftar enjoys varying levels of support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Russia, and France.
Last week, Salame warned that without action by the Security Council, Libya's conflict would escalate if outside patrons step up support for the warring sides.
But General Ahmed al-Mesmari, spokesman for Haftar's forces, on Saturday ruled out any political negotiations.
"The time of going back to dialogue is over," said al-Mesmari, speaking in the UAE. "The military solution is the best solution to spread security and reimpose the law."
Since April, fighting between pro-GNA and pro-Haftar forces has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.


Third Algerian protest figure detained within a week

Updated 19 September 2019

Third Algerian protest figure detained within a week

  • Fodil Boumala was arrested on Wednesday evening in front of his home
  • He was detained pending trial on accusations of “undermining national unity”

ALGIERS: An Algerian court on Thursday ordered the pre-trial detention of a leading figure in protests that have gripped Algeria for nearly seven months, one of his lawyers said.
Former state TV journalist Fodil Boumala was arrested on Wednesday evening in front of his home in an eastern suburb of the capital, his lawyer Abdelghani Badi said on Facebook.
Boumala was detained pending trial on accusations of “undermining national unity” after a hearing with an investigative judge at an Algiers court, his lawyer added.
He is the third protest movement figure to be detained on the same charge within a week, following Karim Tabou a week ago and Samir Benlarbi on Tuesday.
The arrests come as the army toughens its line on the demonstrations that have regularly thronged the streets of Algiers and other areas since late February, continuing despite the April resignation of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika after 20 years in power.
On Wednesday, the military ordered police to block protesters from outside the capital entering Algiers, days after a presidential election was announced for December despite pushback from demonstrators.
Army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah has led the push for polls by the end of the year.
But protesters have demanded political reforms and the removal of the former president’s loyalists — including Gaid Salah himself — before any legitimate vote can be held.
The police have made multiple arrests in Algiers before the start of Friday rallies in recent weeks.
Officially, demonstrations had been banned in Algiers since 2001, but the prohibition had been ignored since the demonstrations started in February against the ailing Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth presidential term.
According to the coordinator of the National Committee for the Release of Prisoners, 22 protesters arrested last Friday were placed in pre-trial detention on Sunday.
In Relizane, 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of Algiers, two people were killed in overnight clashes between security forces and protesters angered by the death of a teenager in an accident involving a police car, the prosecution said Thursday.
The fighting broke out as the demonstrators tried to storm the town’s police station and find the police officer who had been driving the car when it hit the 15-year-old’s motorbike, killing him.
Two people wounded during the clashes later died, the prosecution said.